Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Don Berman - September 23, 2012


Meditation, Minimalism, and the Element of Surprise

This Sunday, Sept 23rd, I will present three pieces for the Racer Session. Besides playing my drums, I will be assisted by 4 of my talented friends and colleagues:

 Jared Borkowski                  guitar

 Simon Henneman                guitar

 Maria Mannisto                    voice

 Carol Weber                        voice



5 players, each with his / her own self-created sonic mantra.  All will start by playing their personal mantras repeatedly, settling their thoughts and opening their subconscious minds. What happens then? What will be manifested? As thoughts or distractions return (and they always do!), a player returns to his/ her mantra to “re-settle” and get back into the zone. This is fun to do, and when you sit in YOU can do it, even if the other players are doing other types of things!


A couple of years ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting and having a private lesson with the superb New York drummer, Adam Nussbaum. While hanging out, we talked alot about various aspects of making music. I remarked to him that I have encountered people, who do not really seem to possess a huge  amount of technique, and yet I have seen them play beautifully. And, conversely, that I have also sometimes run into players oozing chops, who fail to make good music with them! His classic reply was something like this:

“Well, man, you know? Some people do a little with alot and some people do alot with a little!”

This piece is an adventure in limiting the parameters of your instrument, then proceeding to create good music within the limits! For example, I will be playing only my snare drum and one cymbal. The guitars may be limiting the strings they play on and / or the number of frets they use. The singers will restrict themselves to a third or so of their vocal ranges!

This, like the meditation piece, is something you can try when you sit in tonight, despite what your partners in crime may be doing!


A pianist friend told me he once studied with a strict and well known teacher. This teacher had a habit of sitting and drinking coffee, while watching his students play their lessons. My friend said he was right in the middle of a piece when the teacher snuck over and poured coffee all over my friend’s right arm while he (my friend) was busy playing his lesson!

“Was that a surprise?” the teacher asked my buddy?

“Yes!!!!” exclaimed my pal.

“Well,” said the teacher, “That’s EXACTLY what is missing from your playing!”

So hopefully, somewhere in the midst of this piece, we will hear surprises! You can try this, too, when you are jamming tonight! As always, it is a pleasure to come and share ideas with all of you here at the Racer!